Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Archive for May 21st, 2007

Monday Afternoon News Roundup

Posted by Phoenix Woman on May 21, 2007

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Suhpraiiiz, Suhpraiiiz, Suhpraiiiz! In finest fox-guarding-henhouse tradition (h/t Mahablog), the Bush Junta stacked the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division with people like Bradley Schlotzman and Hans von Spakovsky, who not only worked to suppress minority voter turnout, but helped Bush get out of paying the Federal Elections Commission the $40 million he owes for going massively over the spending limits in the 2004 campaign.

A Fair(y) Use Tale (or: Why Michael Eisner and the Disney Corporation Suck Eggs).

— From the They Can Dish It Out But They Can’t Take It Wing of the Republican Hypocrisy Brigade (h/t Nitpicker):  The same people whining about Carter’s sharp and informed criticisms of Bush the Younger (and who whined about Clinton doing the same) on the pretext that “former presidents don’t criticize sitting ones” seem to have forgotten Reagan’s criticisms of Clinton (who barely had time to warm his chair in the Oval Office before Captain Senile or a ghostwriter penned a blast against Clinton called “There They Go Again” that ran in the New York Times), not to mention Bush the Elder’s attacks on Clinton, which were made barely nine months after Clinton took office (and despite Bush I’s promise to leave Clinton alone for at least a year).  But of course, the Clinton Rules are still in effect.

 

Posted in abuse of power, bogus "voter fraud" claims, Bush, BushCo malfeasance, Clinton Rules, hypocrites | 3 Comments »

Tapped out: Saudi oilfield nearing exhaustion?

Posted by Charles II on May 21, 2007

Northern Ghawar oilfield

The above rendition of the Northern Ghawar oilfield is from Stuart Staniford at The Oil Drum (via James Hamilton at EconBrowser; the discussion there may be a little easier to follow). The left hand panel is a false color map showing the original deposit. As the field has been pumped, water has been injected in. The right hand panel includes modeling of gas deposits. The central map shows oil without the modeling of gas.

The Northern Ghawar field produces half of Saudi oil. The southern field can continue producing for decades, but Staniford believes that Saudi production is in irreversible decline.

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

Banana Republicanism, Minnesota Style

Posted by Phoenix Woman on May 21, 2007

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(A detail from Kirk Anderson’s excellent “Banana Republicans” cartoon.)

One of the advantages of living to adulthood is being able to put things in context. Even if most of one’s news comes from network TV, one can work out the truth in the cracks that often appear in the effort to present a smooth semblance of a consensus reality. And if you possess certain forms of specialized knowledge — or if you just plain read a lot — eventually you make enough connections to figure out what’s bullcrap and what’s not.

For instance: Efforts by the Bush Junta to proclaim a ‘recovery’ or even a ‘boom’ ring hollow when stats from the U.S. Bureau Statistics show that real wages peaked in 1972 and, aside from the large gains during the Clinton years, have trended sharply downward since then. This is happening even as analysts as widely divergent as Dean Baker and Warren Buffett have noted that the responsibility for paying taxes has been taken from the rich and dumped onto the rest of us.

The exempting of the rich from both tax load and from financial risk in general has been accelerated since 1980. Not coincidentally, this is the period when the Republicans have exerted the strongest control over Congress and the White House. As David Cay Johnston noted in 2005, the incomes of the wealthiest 0.1 percent of Americans have more than doubled since 1980, while incomes for those in the bottom 90 percent have dropped dramatically and even those persons above the bottom 90% but below the top 1% have made only modest gains at best compared to the hyper-rich one-tenth of one percent.

It wasn’t always that way. Here’s how Johnston puts it into perspective:

One way to understand the growing gap is to compare earnings increases over time by the vast majority of taxpayers – say, everyone in the lower 90 percent – with those at the top, say, in the uppermost 0.01 percent (now about 14,000 households, each with $5.5 million or more in income last year).

From 1950 to 1970, for example, for every additional dollar earned by the bottom 90 percent, those in the top 0.01 percent earned an additional $162, according to the Times analysis. From 1990 to 2002, for every extra dollar earned by those in the bottom 90 percent, each taxpayer at the top brought in an extra $18,000.

Here in Minnesota, the Democrats in the state legislature tried to make a small, reasonable effort at redressing some of this wild imbalance. Their plan was to take some of the property-tax burden off of the vast majority of Minnesotans and to put it on those fortunate few making more than $226,000 a year for individuals and $400,000 a year for married couples — a plan which is very popular among most Minnesotans.

The problem is that while the Democrats won a lot of seats last November, they don’t have enough to override Smilin’ Tim Pawlenty’s vetoes and stop Minnesota’s slide into third-rate Banana Republicanism, where the rich huddle behind gated communities while the rest of us will wind up begging for their scraps. He and his fellow Republicans value cuddling up to David Strom (whose support Pawlenty, who wants to be John McCain’s running mate, will need in his bid for higher office) more than they value taking the platinum-plated golden thumb of the very rich off of the economic scales so that the rest of us can put our heads above water for at least a few gasps.

Posted in 2008, real wages, Republicans, Republicans acting badly, rightwing moral cripples, taxes, Tim Pawlenty | 6 Comments »

 
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